Drug projects step in to support homeless families and individuals

By Mary Dennehy

COMMUNITY projects are providing, with no additional funding, food, shower and laundry facilities for homeless people, after Focus Ireland in Tallaght discontinued its drop-in service due to the “sheer demands” on its services.

As reported in The Echo, Focus Ireland took over the Tallaght Homeless Advice Unit in 2011, a move which saw the continuation and enhancement of the advice and information centre and its drop-in service – which initially provided food, storage, laundry and wash facilities to homeless people across the county.

Focus 04

Main Street, Tallaght Village

However, in 2017, Focus Ireland discontinued the information centre’s drop-in service, which, at this stage, was providing a limited service of tea/coffee, laundry facilities and information.

According to a spokesman for Focus Ireland: “Focus Ireland is continuing to serve the people of Tallaght and South Dublin, and the change to our drop-in service last year was due to the increased demands on our services locally.

“Focus Ireland previously ran a limited drop-in service including tea and coffee from 10am/ 11am until 1pm but due to the sheer demands on our services, including space restrictions, it was not possible to continue with this drop-in service.”

The Tallaght Village-based centre continues to provide advice, information and advocacy for those impacted on by the housing and homeless crisis between the hours of 9.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 4pm daily.

“In the last couple of years we have seen unprecedented demands on our services with many complex queries… and our work locally is made possible thanks to the work of our committed staff, and the support of the wider community in Tallaght,” the spokesman said.

“To give an example of the situation locally, during 2017 Focus Ireland saw on average a 37 per cent increase in the number of men and women presenting to our Advice and Information Services in Tallaght, on a monthly basis.

“This means that in 2016 on average we saw 105 individuals supported monthly, by 2017, this average had risen to 140.”

Support homeless individuals

However, when Focus Ireland discontinued its drop-in service, nobody asked where its clients would go, according to community drug projects – which had to step in to support homeless individuals and families.

JADD (Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency) is now providing food, shower and laundry facilities to homeless people five days a week.

Some of the people that come to JADD, which is one of a number of local drug projects providing similar services, have addiction issues.

However, others, including a number of families living in hotels, are not service users of the projects – with families and children being catered for by JADD in the staff canteen.

Tommy Gilsen, of JADD, told The Echo: “Providing these services does not come under our remit and we are getting no additional funding to provide them.

“However, if our door is open, we’re not going to turn anyone away.

“Where were these people supposed to go?

“Why didn’t South Dublin County Council or the Government not step in and work with the organisations and projects providing the service?”

He added: “Once again, everything is passed onto the community projects, which are already stretched and stressed.

“If community projects are expected to take on this service, the adequate funding should follow.”

Alongside providing shower and laundry facilities and a hot meal, JADD’s support workers provide information and advice – with an outreach worker from South Dublin County Council also visiting the drop-in service every Thursday.

“In fairness, the council has been very supportive in visiting every Thursday”, Mr Gilsen said.

“It’s a very practical way for the council to engage with homeless people and also ensures that people are getting a weekly update.

“There has been benefits already, with some people securing [temporary] accommodation.”

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